Part 1

The young couple strolled side by side in the empty, night-shrouded park.

"So I'll see you then?" the boy asked. The girl giggled and amiably bumped against them, it was obvious that this was a rather young and naive pair. They probably weren't out of high school yet.

"Of course silly," she answered. "But I have to get home now." There was the sound of something passing by quickly, but when they turned, neither saw anything.

"It was just the wind," the boy said with a sigh of relief. "Do you want me to walk you home Ryoko?"

"No, I'll be fine and it's so far out of your way," she said. The boy started to leave cautiously. "Go on, silly, I'll be fine."

"Well, okay, if you're sure," he then starts at a fast walk in the direction opposite to which they had been travelling.

"Bye Kenji!!" he was out of sight for perhaps three seconds when the "wind" passed by again. She turned to face it, but by then whatever it was moved behind her. "Wha - !" Then something all cloaked in white descended on her. Her scream was cut off as something sharp bit her neck.

Kenji arrived back as the thing in white vanished again, he only caught a fleeting glimpse of it.

"Ryoko!" he called. The girl seemed chalk white and she merely stared forward. "Ryoko are you - ?" Then Ryoko toppled forward lifelessly, striking the dead weight. "RYOKO!!!!"

A woman was looking through various types of cloth for sale at a small store. The dealer had to go in the back for some more rolls of cloth, and she was alone in the front of the store. She was a woman in her late twenties with brownish red hair and a bored sort of look on her face.

Some noise from outside made her turn around and look out into the darkened, rain-spattered streets. She continued staring out the glass, seeing nothing. There was something wrong, a stillness which alerted the deepest instincts of her human soul. Then a thin thread-width crack spread through the glass window.

The woman's body lay back, staring sightlessly into space, all wrapped in multi-colored cloth. Her skin was the same deathly pale shade as Ryoko, only now the effect was illuminated by the store lights. Every so often a brighter flash absorbed the area as voices spoke over the dead.

"This is the fifth one, right?"

"Yes, and everyone is drained of blood."

"Just like a vampi - "

"Don't say such stupid things!!" Somebody snapped. "What if the media heard?"

As they talked two figures stood outside in the rain behind the small crowd of on-lookers. One was a figure in a dark purple cloak, holding an umbrella over the other. The second of the pair was a young girl with fiery red hair and a face half-concealed in darkness. She was dressed in a simple robe, and her mouth could be seen to be formed into grim line.

The young man stepped out of the train station oddly separate from the rest of the crowd. He scanned the area about him, brushing violet strands of hair out of his range of vision. His sight immediately settled on the spiritualist shop accross the street. His eyes narrowed as the unintended insult of the place's existence struck and was filtered out by long experience with similar sites.

"Spiritualist," he said, irritably. "Why is it that all the con-artists and flakes get the money, while those of us with real spiritual powers have to scrape by." He looked at the slip of paper again and checked the address against his map of the city. He was about to ask for directions when someone addressed him,

"Zelgadis-San?" he turned and saw a pale and tired man standing before him.

"Are you my employer?" Zelgadis asked calmly. He looked the man over, he certainly seemed tired and emotionly drained. That might mean that he was just another desparate parent reaching for a last hope. Or it might mean that this was a real case of possession.

"Yes," the man said. "I'll lead you to our estate."

"Lead away," Zelgadis agreed. After several minutes of walking they came to a high walled section of land near a small park. As they approached the interest, Zelgadis sneered at the abundance of garlic he saw hanging around the gates. "Such supertitious nonsense," he muttered under his breath.

The estate was quite extensive for the space constrictive regions of Japan, and very well kept as well. Inside the high wall they came to a very ordered grounds with a small moat. As Zelgadis followed his host, now joined by the man's wife who was equally drained in appearance, he noticed a number of large koi swimming through the moat as they passed over the bridge. There was something odd about this house that he couldn't lay his finger on.

They walked for almost a full two minutes before they actually came to the main building's door. The door slid open on a long, wide, empty hall in the center of which a young girl, maybe fourteen years old, lay with her eyes closed. The girl was breathing shallowly, and her skin was a pale color that contrasted sharply with the black tresses curling down to her shoulders.

"Is this the child?"

"Yes," the mother answered. "We've tried everything, but none of the doctors could find anything wrong with poor Amelia."

"So I am a last resort then?" Zelgadis asked as he settled in to examine the girl. The parents winced at the mild reproach.

"You must understand..." the father started.

"Don't worry," Zelgadis caught him. "I'm always a last resort, and can rarely do any good, true cases of possession are..." He stopped as his hands passed over the child's heart. "A fox spirit!!" He thought, turning to the parents he calmly spoke. "There may be something I can do after all." Zelgadis stabbed a dagger-like wand into the floor and began chanting as he rubbed the rings on his left index and middle fingers together.

Much later, Zelgadis was resignedly putting away his tools.

"I must apologize," he told the parents. "It seems that this is beyond my skill, don't worry about payment. No reward for no results."

"Did you hear about the vampire?" the mother asked for no apparent reason. Zelgadis narrowed his eyes and paused in his preparations to leave.

"Don't talk such nonsense," the father ordered.

"But I know I saw a man all in a white cloak out there one night," the mother insisted. "And it's the heart of summer!"

"Hmm," Zelgadis noted. "It appears that I do not have to give up that payment quite yet after all. Excuse me, I have some investigating to do." Zelgadis and the girl's parents stood up, they bowed to each other and then he left out the door. He still had the feeling that he was missing something, but what that could be, he hadn't yet figured out.

As he was exiting the house he turned to see a young boy, probably from a high school nearby, staring at the walls and holding a small aiguchi.

"Need anything?" he asked sarcastically. The boy turned to him, passionate rage blazing across his face.

"I saw that....that thing go into that house!!!" he shouted. "And I'm going to kill that vampire!!" Zelgadis raised one eyebrow.

"So your girlfriend was...."

"The vampire's first victim," Kenji nodded. "I had just left her." He recalled, briefly, those last few seconds in which he had found Ryoko standing dead, staring into space.

"And you saw what did it?"

"Only a glimpse," Kenji groaned. "A hideous thing in white that moved to fast to be human. And it went into THAT house!!" He pointed furiously at the Sairyuun estate.

"Perhaps you should let me handle this," Zelgadis suggested calmly.

"I am never going to rest until that MONSTER is destroyed!" He launched the knife forward, obviously aiming for the tree a little to left of Zelgadis's head. The blade was going to miss, but Zelgadis wanted to push a point anyway. Without moving from his seated position Zelgadis incapcitated the weapon arm and forced Kenji to drop the knife.

"If you can't handle me," Zelgadis noted. "How can you handle a 'vampire?' " Zelgadis stood up, releasing the boy as he did. "Go home, grieve, and leave this to me." He walked calmly away, wondering whether his spiritual skills would be stronger if he hadn't spent the time on his physical ones. There was rarely any need for such things in his line of work.

"Okay there have been five victims so far," Zelgadis noted. "A housewife, a college student, a ten-year old girl, a nurse, and a grandmother. I wonder if this thing has a bias against men." He was walking back through the small park, on the way to the Sairyuun estate, when a breeze suddenly blasted through the air around him. He found it difficult to see as a mist rose up around him.

He was so shocked that he barely had time to think "I guess not..." as something with grayish-withered flesh surrounded by a white cloak descended down to him. He was about to break from the momentary freeze when he felt another pair of presences and the monster ran away.

"Damn," he heard a female voice say. "Got away." He turned to see a young red head in pale, elegant clothes sitting on top the shinto arch at the park's entrance. She couldn't have been more than seventeen years old, but she bore a quiet confidence that belied her outward appearance. She turned to look into the face of the cloaked figure behind her. The figure carried an ornate staff and wore a mask that bore a smiling painted face.

"Who are you?"

"Fangs..." she started ticking the points on her fingers. "...superhuman strength....speed...fog...blazing eyes.....Just like all the old legends. Very faithful to the legends isn't it?" She said the last to her silent companion, with a sarcastic edge.

"Do you know what's going on here?" Zelgadis demanded, brandishing the small vajra again. The girl turned to him, as if noticing that he was there for the first time.

"I don't think you should get involved any further in this," she told him, holding out her hand. "Zelgadis." She waved her hand down, and his eyes closed, when they opened again the girl and her companion were gone, with a trailing laugh on the wind the only evidence she was ever there.

"Wait!" Zelgadis called angrily. "Who are you? How do you know my name?!!"

Part 2   |   Fanfiction